Empress of the Seas was built by Donald McKay at East Boston and launched on 14th January 1853. Registered at 2,197 tons (American), she measured 240 feet in length with a 43 foot beam, and carried a magnificent female figurehead holding a globe and the sceptre of the seas. Sold to William Wilson & Son of Baltimore for $125,000 whilst still on the stocks, she began her career on the California run making her maiden passage out in 121 days. Transferred off the San Francisco route in 1858, she eventually began sailings from England to Australia and in 1861 made the run from Liverpool to Melbourne in a remarkably fast 66½ days. On 19th December the same year, she caught fire at Port Phillip, Australia, and became a total loss.